UP leads in toilet construction, but races against time to meet Dec ODF deadlineUpdated: Nov 25, 2017 15:23 IST
Despite taking a lead over all other states in terms of construction of individual household latrines (IHLs) in the country this year, Uttar Pradesh is unlikely to achieve the self-imposed ambitious target of making 30 out of the state’s 75 districts open defecation free (ODF) by December.
The state has been able to declare only six districts open defecation free so far even as the year draws to a close, leaving it with only a month and a half to rid 24 more districts of the primeval practice of defecating in the open. The task is understood to be near impossible to be accomplished in so short a time, according to sources.
“The target is no doubt tough but we are trying our best to achieve it by declaring all 30 districts ODF by December this year,” additional chief secretary Chanchal Kumar Tewari told HT.
The problem arises not only from the paucity of time but also from lack of availability of funds from the Central government.
The Centre was supposed to give to UP Rs 8,800 crore this year to enable the state to make IHLs in all the villages in 30 districts by December. But, the state has received only Rs 2,500 crore so far.
“We have been requesting the central government to release the next installment of funds for toilet construction and we do hope to get the money very soon,” Tewari said.
“But we have not stopped building latrines in villages for the fund constraints,” he said.
Construction of individual household latrines in villages is a part of the Gramin Swachh Bharat Mission launched by the Modi government on October 2, 2014. Under this, the Centre and the states pool funds in the 60:40 ratio. Beneficiaries get Rs 12,000 each per latrine construction. Uttar Pradesh consists of 98,498 villages and 58,766 village panchayats.
Giving an impetus to the campaign, chief minister, Yogi Adityanath declared that his government would make 30 districts ODF by October 2017 itself while ending the practice of open defecation in the remaining 45 other districts by October 2018. Later, this year’s deadline was extended from October to December.
The panchayati raj department went on a toilet construction spree in the state, but could achieve merely 20% of the target as far as declaring ODF districts is concerned. However, it has built a record 20 lakh latrines during the current financial year, achieving the top rank in the country.
It also claims to have freed all the 2,627 villages (under six districts) along the Ganga from open defecation under the Namami Gange project.
“Uttar Pradesh is number one in the country in the matter of constructing individual household latrines this year without compromising on quality,” director, Panchayati Raj, Vijay Kiran Anand said.
“We are not only constructing latrines at a fast pace but also motivating people through various community programmes to use them,” he added.
Uttar Pradesh is, however, still among the five states with the lowest individual household latrine coverage. In UP this is 53.48% and below it are Pondicherry (47.8%), Odhisa (43.96%), J&K (37.715) and Bihar (32.76%). Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have the highest coverage at 100%.
The six districts that have been declared ODF are Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Meerut, Shamli and Bijnor—all in western UP where it is easy to achieve the target because of greater public awareness and less number of toilets needed to be constructed.
Satish Tyagi, a milk dairy owner and resident of Kursi village under Muradnagar development block in Ghaziabad, said, “Each house in our village now has an individual latrine and nobody defecates in open. He said most of the households in the village already had a toilet and those which did not have one were provided the facility by the government.”